LEXINGTON, Ky. — After the water began to recede from historic July flooding, 13 Eastern Kentucky counties were declared federal disaster areas. Communities began to take stock of the toll inflicted by one of the most devastating flooding events in the state’s history and identified an immediate need to help horses in the impacted areas.
Flooding disasters bring an increased risk for diseases spread by mosquitos, flies, ticks and other pests as well as an enormous need for vaccinations and fly and tick control. An equine industry group sprang into action, responding to the need with donations and expertise.
Fernanda Camargo, associate extension professor in the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, and Sarah Coleman, executive director of the Kentucky Horse Council, led the group responsible for vaccinating and deworming more than 200 horses in Eastern Kentucky and distributing more than 200 pairs of mud boots and more than 300 bottles of fly spray. They provided medicated shampoo, delivered thousands of pounds of donated hay and supplied halters, fly masks and buckets.
“Animals are an integral part of our lives,” Camargo said. “Whether they are pets or production animals, they enrich humanity. So, in times of utter devastation, I feel that if we can help care for these animals, we free up victims’ time and brain space so they can deal with and focus on rebuilding their lives, knowing that they don’t have to worry about their horses. This hopefully decreases their emotional distress, and they can mourn their losses and restart their lives.”
Camargo said this disaster was challenging in many ways. Not only did people lose loved ones, houses and belongings, but the flooding happened in a mountainous area, with hard-to-reach places.
“Some places were already difficult to get to before the flood, but now roads have been washed away and people and animals are islanded,” Camargo said. “Moreover, people lost their cell phones, internet and electricity, so communication is near impossible in some cases. What used to be fields of grass are now covered in mud, so these animals don’t have anything to graze on. If people had already stocked hay for the winter, they may have lost it all, or they need to feed it now because they have no fields and will be short on hay in the winter. Fences have been washed away, so it’s hard to contain farm animals. Some have even been tied to trees, so they don’t wander away.”
Several organizations and individuals donated supplies through this effort. This included vaccines from Boehringer Ingelheim, Merck and Zoetis; dewormers from Zoetis; fly spray from Absorbine and Pyranha; rubber boots from Bogs and Noble Outfitters; syringes and needles from Neogen and Hagyard Equine Medical Institute and wound products from Zarasyl Equine.
Farms and Individuals who donated hay, money, general items like clothes, halters or buckets include Bel Mar, Camargo, Marylu Ernsting, Erin Dupre, Courtney Calnan, Kristi Fry and Campbell Horse Transport, Dorrisa Risner, Laurie Lawrence, Stephanie Reedy and Peter Timoney.
Coleman led the hay effort, which resulted in thousands of pounds of donated hay, with Bernice Amburgey from the Appalachian Horse Project, Reed Graham and other Cooperative Extension agents.
Organizations that donated money included the American Association of Equine Practitioners, Kentucky Association of Equine Practitioners and the Kentucky Horse Council. Organizations that helped spread the word, organize volunteers and helped with other logistics included KAEP, KHC, Kentucky Veterinary Medical Association, Appalachian Horse Project, Kentucky Humane Society, Kentucky Equine Education Project and the Kentucky 4-H Horse Program.
Covetrus also donated miscellaneous items. Other individuals who helped in facilitating efforts included Jen Roytz and Ryan Wilson.
Veterinarians who helped administer vaccinations and access and treat medical needs included Tina Cassar, Scott Hanson, Joe Lyman and Nina Waldron.
“I am humbled to see how rapidly these multinational companies were so quick to reply to my simple email requesting for help,” Camargo said. “This just goes to show that they are eager to help, but sometimes they don’t know how, or don’t have a personal local connection to have boots on the ground, and all I had to do was ask for specific items and where to send them, and they all came through.”
— Holly Wiemers, UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment